When the Somali Islamist Group, al-Shabaab withdrew from Mogadishu last week, the move presented an excellent opportunity for the Somali government, and the African Union (AU) to consolidate their forces, and strengthen the defenses around the capital. Much more than that, it presented an opportunity to unify a country devastated by over 20 years of conflict, and to extend the now emboldened transitional government’s authority to other parts of the country.
I recently returned from a three-country tour of West Africa. It was my first trip back since I left in 1999, when the Charles Taylor-backed Revolutionary United Front (RUF) invaded my home of Freetown, Sierra Leone. My recent trip took me to the Gambia via Senegal, and then to Sierra Leone, marking an emotional and exhilarating homecoming. Much more than that, the trip was an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the struggles of a continent I hold dear and to assess the changes that have taken place since I left. For more on my trip, click here.